Patriots brace for diverse 49ers running game

Patriots brace for diverse 49ers running game

The Patriots are reeling. The 49ers were reeling. When the two teams meet this weekend, the 49ers will be running.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows what’s coming, and he offered up from praise for the San Francisco ground game on Tuesday.

“Yeah, they get everybody involved in the running game,” Belichick said. “They hand it to tight ends, receivers, backs. They run multiple personnel groupings with the fullback, with no fullback, with three receivers, two receivers. So they give you a lot of different looks.

“They’re very well-coached, they have a good scheme, they’re sound, they are fundamentally very good. Coach [Kyle] Shanahan does a great job of attacking defenses by creating formations and conflicts that are hard defensively and he can take advantage of them in a number of different ways, and then of course they make some big plays in the passing game, as well, by setting up those things in the running game.

“They’re well-coached, they’re very good fundamentally, they have an explosive group of players and they put pressure on you across the board. Certainly, the receivers carrying the ball is something that you’ve got to defend, but there’s a lot of other things you’ve got to defend, too, so that’s the whole problem with San Francisco is it’s not stopping one guy or one play or one player. It’s about being able to play good team defense and everybody’s got to hold up and do their job, and that’s challenging at all the positions — quarterback, tight end, running back, wide receiver and a good offensive line, and as I said, very well-coached. You can see why they won the NFC last year. Offensively, they’ve got a strong group.”

Yes they are, and they showed it again on Sunday night, with a win over the Rams. The question is whether they can make it two in a row, and whether the Patriots can stop their losing streak at two.